Featherstone Rovers warming to new structure

Featherstone Rovers general manager Davide Longo
Featherstone Rovers general manager Davide Longo

Featherstone Rovers general manager Davide Longo insists that the club are looking forward to playing under a new structure in 2019 – despite being opposed to the scrapping of the Super 8s.

Rovers had publicly voiced their opposition to the proposed changes in structure which saw the Qualifiers scrapped.

However, unlike the Super 8s and subsequently, the Qualifiers, there is now a guaranteed promotion place for one Championship club.

The clubs that finish in the Championship’s top five will enter into play-offs, culminating in a Grand Final, where the winner will be promoted to Super League.

And Longo feels that the new system will give Featherstone a much better chance of promotion.

“It was well documented that when it came to the vote at the EGM, that we were voting for no change,” he said.

“We as a club liked the Qualifiers.

“It gave the fans what they wanted, they had drama there and you had top Championship clubs against bottom Super League clubs.

“There was the underdog-type mentality, you always had a puncher’s chance. That is what it created for us.

“We enjoyed it, although we didn’t make the Qualifiers it is still a competition and a format that we admired.

“However, the changes have happened now and it would appear, that for us to reach the holy grail – which is Super League – we have to compete against top-end Championship clubs to do that now.

“There is an automatic promotion into Super League if you win the Grand Final and we are happy with that.”

Longo admitted that Featherstone will be targeting a Wembley appearance in 2019 after the introduction of the 1895 Cup.

The newly-introduced tournament will give Championship and League One clubs another chance to reach Wembley.

The 1895 Cup is a new knockout competition for the clubs outside of Super League, the final of which will be played on the same day as the Challenge Cup Final.

Longo added: “Something that we have asked for as Championship and League One clubs is more cup competitions.

“It is unrealistic to think that a Championship or League One club is ever going to reach the Challenge Cup final.

“So the 1895 cup competition is brilliant.

“I think it is a really good concept, one that we backed as a club and there is an opportunity for Featherstone Rovers to get to Wembley again.

“I think that would have to be a goal of ours, to get to the final and win the 1895 cup.

“The ultimate goal is to finish in the top five and give ourselves the best chance of playing out that competition.

“At this moment in time, we have just got to bring a bit of stability back to Featherstone Rovers and to the squad.”

Meanwhile, Rovers’ fixtures for the 2019 season will be released on Sunday.